Menstrual bloating is a common condition that occurs when your abdomen feels full or tight before or during your period. This uncomfortable symptom is thought to be caused by a drop in hormone levels before menstruation.
Common PMS (PMS) Symptoms such as bloating, headaches, and moodiness usually begin to improve a few days after your period starts, when hormone levels start to rise again.
This article will describe the causes of menstrual bloating, and remedies to relieve it.
How menstruation actually works
Definition of bloating
Bloating occurs when the abdomen is swollen or distended. It can cause uncomfortable tightness. Bloating can be caused by a variety of factors, including constipation, swallowing air, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux, digestive problems, and celiac disease. In rare cases, certain cancers can also cause bloating.
Menstrual bloating is common. In fact, more than 90% of menstruating women report symptoms such as bloating before or during their period. PMS symptoms can start anytime after your first period, but usually begin in your 20s. Some women experience more severe symptoms later in life.
Common symptoms of menstrual bloating include:
- tight or full feeling
Other common menstrual symptoms include:
- mood changes
- lower back pain
- breast tenderness
- food cravings
Tips to Reduce Bloating
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce period bloating, including:
- Physical activity: Regular physical activity has been shown to ease PMS symptoms such as bloating. The goal is to exercise most of the month.
- Diet: Avoid foods that can cause or worsen bloating. Avoid foods containing caffeine, salt, or sugar before and during your period.
- Eat slowly: Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow air, which can lead to bloating. Try to slow down during meals and avoid chewing gum and carbonated beverages, as these foods can also cause air swallowing.
- Sleep: Lack of sleep is associated with increased PMS symptoms. If possible, aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep.
- Reduce stress: Women who report feeling stressed are more likely to experience PMS symptoms. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and massage to improve symptoms.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking may worsen PMS symptoms, such as bloating.
Ways to Relieve PMS Symptoms Naturally
Why does bloating happen
When it comes to just about any menstrual symptom, you can blame hormones. Changes in hormone levels can cause various changes in the body. Your estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly each month you’re not pregnant. This rapid drop in hormones can lead to water retention and bloating. A few days after your period, these hormones start increasing again, relieving most menstrual symptoms.
What is menstrual flu?
Most people who menstruate experience symptoms around the time of their period. The following risk factors can increase the chance of menstrual bloating:
- Age: Women in their 30s are more likely to experience menstrual symptoms. These symptoms may also worsen with age. This is because of hormonal changes that occur as the body prepares for perimenopause and menopause.
- Stress: Women who report high levels of stress are more likely to experience menstrual symptoms such as bloating.
- Health history: A history of postpartum depression was associated with an increased risk of monthly PMS symptoms.
- Family history: A family history of depression is associated with a higher risk of PMS symptoms.
- Diet: A diet high in salt and processed/fat foods can lead to water retention and bloating.
- Smoking: Smoking can worsen bloating and other PMS symptoms.
Certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may be exacerbated by PMS symptoms. You may notice bloating, constipation, and diarrhea during your period. Discuss with your healthcare provider how to manage your symptoms.
Hormones Can Affect Your Digestive System During Your Menstrual Cycle
If you’ve tried lifestyle changes to improve menstrual bloating and are still uncomfortable, you may be considering home remedies. It is important to note that you should always speak with your healthcare provider before starting a new dietary supplement. Home remedies that can improve menstrual bloating include:
- Water: Staying hydrated is an easy way to improve bloating. Drinking enough water can help improve water retention and prevent constipation. Constipation is a common cause of bloating.
- Vitamin B6: Taking vitamin B6 supplements can ease menstrual bloating. Vitamin B6 is found in fish, poultry, potatoes, some fruits and fortified cereals.
- Magnesium: Magnesium supplements may reduce menstrual water retention and improve bloating symptoms.
what to eat to reduce bloating
Changing your diet may improve menstrual bloating and other menstrual symptoms. Consider eating six small meals instead of three large ones. This helps reduce bloating and keeps blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Other dietary changes to try include:
- Choose fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to prevent constipation. Avoid fiber supplements, as they can cause more bloating.
- Eat complex carbohydrates to provide your body with energy and fiber throughout the day. Examples include whole-wheat breads and cereals, brown rice and barley.
- Make sure you get enough calcium from foods like yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables.
- Limit your intake of sugar, salt, and fatty foods.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before and during your period.
When to see a healthcare provider
If menstrual bloating becomes so severe that lifestyle changes don’t help and you can’t keep up with your daily activities, talk to your healthcare provider or gynecologist. They may ask you to keep a symptom diary to see when the bloating started and what, if any, helped it.
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you take a diuretic during your period to relieve water retention and bloating. It is important to note that diuretics should not be taken with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because of the risk of kidney damage.
Period bloating is a condition that occurs before or during your period. It causes abdominal distention and an uncomfortable, tight feeling. Menstrual bloating is thought to be caused by hormonal changes that occur each month during menstruation. Tips for reducing bloating include getting physical activity, drinking plenty of fluids, and managing stress.
If you experience period bloating every month, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Just because this symptom is so common doesn’t mean you have to live with it all the time. Try making some lifestyle changes, such as being more active or eating a healthy diet, and see if your symptoms improve. If not, consult your healthcare provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age does menopause begin?
Menopause usually begins in a transitional period called perimenopause, usually in the mid-to-late 40s.
How long will menstrual gas last?
Menstrual bloating affects everyone differently. You may experience it just before your period or in the first few days of your cycle.
When does bloating go away after menstruation?
Bloating usually resolves on its own a few days after your period. This is due to changes in hormone levels.